Does Maine Need To Worry About Zika?
You've probably heard about Zika by now. This mosquito-borne virus is all over the national news. And for good reason. Studies have shown that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly in unborn children at all stages of pregnancy. That is some scary stuff. But what are the odds of a Zika outbreak happening here in Maine? Let's look at some of the factors and see how much of a threat this virus really is.
While it gets pretty cold up here in Maine, that doesn't deter mosquitoes from living here. Anyone who has ever spent some time 'upta camp' knows that these little biters can be miserable. For anyone concerned about contracting the Zika virus, this fact could be downright disturbing. But it is important to understand that not all mosquitoes carry the Zika virus. There are only two species of mosquitoes in the U.S. with the ability to transmit Zika; the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus. So, how many of those mosquitoes that will be biting you 'upta camp', or anywhere outside, are from these two mosquito species? The answer is thankfully, not many.
According to the CDC, Aedes aegypti, which is the primary carrier for Zika, does not reach into Maine. And, while Aedes albopictus does get up this way, there aren't many of them. So, the chances of a Zika outbreak are considerably lower here. Not impossible, but considerably lower. That is definitely good news.
Here's some more good news; Zika has not yet been detected in local U.S. mosquito populations. This means the threat is currently isolated. The only cases of Zika virus found in the U.S. have been in people who recently traveled to areas of the world were Zika is spread through their local mosquito populations. For this reason, it is important to take precautions if you are traveling to one of these locations.
When people come back to the states from other parts of the world, they bring the threat of Zika back with them. 80% of people infected with this virus show no symptoms at all, but they are still carriers, and able to spread this virus to mosquitoes. This is a deadly combination. Fortunately, as we pointed out earlier, Maine doesn't have a large population of Aedes albopictus, so the chances of an outbreak are much lower.
Another factor that must be analyzed is how fast this virus can spread. If it does become local in the U.S., do we have to worry about it here in Maine? Obviously, local travel far exceeds international travel. If there is an outbreak in the continental U.S., it could spread like wildfire. This is, after all, a virus that was first detected in Brazil in 2015, but is now known to infect over a million people. Our best advice on this is to watch the news and increase your mosquito protection if an outbreak is reported, especially if you or someone in your family is pregnant.
While mosquito transfer is the primary transmission of this virus, it has also been found to pass from person to person through unprotected sex. If you have a partner that has recently been to a country where Zika is a widespread threat, it is vital to take extra precaution. This is probably the most likely way you'll get Zika if you live in Maine.
If you travel down the east coast, you are also more likely to get the Zika virus the further you go. The eastern half of the U.S. is where the Aedes mosquitoes are mostly found, and populations increase the further south you go.
So, is Zika a threat here in Maine? Not a big one. But that doesn't make it a good idea to get a lot of bites this summer. Mosquitoes spread other diseases here too. Make sure to protect yourself when you go outside, and consider mosquito reduction services for your yard. Fewer mosquito bites is a good thing. Let us help you with that. At Big Blue Bug Solutions, we have treatments that take care of mosquitoes and ticks at the same time. While you protect your family from mosquito-borne viruses, you can also reduce the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. That is a win-win when it comes to protecting your family and your pets. Get plugged in today for safer tomorrows!